How to Play Games With a Nintendo Switch Emulator on Windows PC

You don't have to be tied to your Switch to play your favorite games.

Mario Kart is being played on Nintendo Switch

Emulators are a fun way to play older console games as well as more recent ones on a PC. Gamers have been using emulators to play their favorite games for the last three decades. Read on to learn how to use a Nintendo Switch emulator to play games on your Windows PC.

What Is an Emulator?

An emulator is a computer application that is used to emulate a different operating system or OS. Along with games, emulators are also used to run legacy software that is incompatible with modern computer hardware.

However, video game emulators really became popular during the ’90s so that people could play their older console games on a PC and relive their memories.

Dump Your Nintendo Switch Games

To play Nintendo Switch games on your PC, you should already own a Nintendo Switch and games that you want to emulate. It’s not advisable to download the game files from a torrent website. Downloading anything from a torrent website is dangerous and illegal.

Before you can dump games from the Nintendo Switch, you must first download custom firmware for your Nintendo Switch to basically mod your handheld console. Do so by following the steps below.

  1. Turn off your Nintendo Switch and remove the SD card.
  2. Connect the SD card to your computer by inserting it into the microSD card slot or using an SD card reader.
  3. Download Atmosphere and fusee.bin.
Downloading Atmosphere and fusee
  1. Also download the latest firmware from the Darthsternie Firmware Archive using “Mega” or “Archive.org.”
Downloading firmware for Ryujinx from Darthsternie Firmware Archive
  1. Unzip the firmware, Atmosphere, and fusee files from the .zip folder and copy them to your SD card.

To dump a Nintendo Switch game from your Switch to your PC, follow the instructions below:

  1. Download NXDump Tool.
Downloading NXDump Tool
  1. Copy the NXDump tool file onto your MicroSD card.
  2. Eject your SD card and put it back into your Nintendo Switch.
  3. Open “Gallery” and locate the “NXDump tool.”
Opening the NXDump Tool on Nintendo Switch
  1. Launch it by pressing the “A” button on your joystick.
  2. When the NXDump tool window opens, select “Dump installed SD card / eMMC content.”
Selecting the option "Dump installed SD card/eMMC content"
  1. Select the game on your Nintendo Switch that you want to dump, then access the game’s menu by selecting “RomFS options.”
Selecting the "RomFS Options" inside the NXDump Tool menu
  1. Select the “RomFS section data dump” in the next window and allow some time for all your game files to dump.
Selecting the "RomFS section data dump" option to start the dumping process
  1. Close the gallery app and turn off your Switch.
Turning off Nintendo Switch
  1. Remove the SD card from the Switch and connect it to your computer.
  2. Go to the “Switch” folder and open the “nxdumptool” folder.
Opening the "NXDump Tool" folder inside the "Switch" folder
  1. Inside the “nxdumptool” folder, open the “RomFS” folder.
Opening the RomFS Folder
  1. When you see all the games that you dumped, copy them to your computer.

How to Use Nintendo Switch Emulator to Play Games on PC

To play your Nintendo Switch games on your Windows PC, you will need to download an emulator. There are currently two free open-source emulators that can emulate Switch games: Ryujinx and Yuzu. Both have their pros and cons, and perform equally.

You also need a powerful PC to emulate Nintendo Switch games. Without, it is likely that both emulators will struggle, regardless of how efficient they are. Follow the steps below as we use Ryujinx for its speed to get up and going.

  1. Go to Ryujinx’s official website and click on the “Download” button.
Opening the Download section to download Ryujinx
  1. Click on “Download” under “Windows” to download the setup file.
Downloading Ryujinx for Windows operating system
  1. Choose a location to save it to and click the “OK” button.
  2. Go to the location where you have saved the downloaded file and extract the folder.
  3. Double-click on the “Ryujinx” application file to launch it.
Launching Ryujinx application
  1. Minimize the Ryujinx Console, then click on “File” and select “Open Ryujinx Folder” in the Ryujinx launcher.
Selecting the "Open Ryujinx Folder" option
  1. Open the System folder and check whether you have “prod.keys.” In most cases, you should have it, but if you don’t, search for it in your file browser.
Confirming if the Prod keys are available in the system folder of Ryujinx
  1. Go to the Darthsternie Firmware Archive and download the latest Ryujinx firmware.
  2. Update the Ryujinx firmware with the latest version by clicking on “Tools,” then selecting “Install a firmware from XCI or ZIP.”
Installing a firmware on Ryujinx by selecting the option "Install a firmware from XCI or ZIP"
  1. Select the .zip firmware file that you downloaded. Click on “Open,” then click “Yes” on the confirmation screen.
Installing the latest firmware on Ryujinx
  1. After updating the firmware, click “Options,” then “Settings.”
Opening Ryujinx settings menu
  1. Click the “Input” tab.
Opening the Input tab in Ryujinx settings menu
  1. Select the player controller settings, then configure your keyboard/controller. By default, the keyboard is selected and configured. If you want to use an Xbox or a third-party gaming controller, connect it to your computer and configure it, then click “Save.”
Configuring Ryujinx controls
  1. You can change the resolution of the game by clicking on “Graphics,” then selecting the resolution under “Resolution Scale.”
Configuring Ryujinx's graphic settings
  1. Go back to “General” and click on the “Add” button below “Games Directories.” Open the location where your games are saved and add them by selecting the “Add” button.
Adding games to Ryujinx by selecting the "Add" option under "Game Directories"
  1. Click on “Apply -> Save.”
  2. Start playing your Nintendo Switch game on your PC.

How to Update Your Games or Add DLC

To update your game or add DLC, you should already have the DLC or game update saved on your computer before following the steps below.

  1. Right-click on the game and select “Manage Title Updates” to update your game or select “Manage DLC” to add DLC.
Updating the game or adding DLC
  1. On the pop-up window, click “Add” and open the location where the update or DLC file is saved.
Updating a game by selecting the "Manage Title Updates."
  1. Click on the update to select it, then select the “Open” button.
  2. Click “Save” for the game to update instantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is dumping games and emulating them legal?

It is acceptable in the U.S. to dump a Nintendo Switch game that you own and use it with an emulator on Windows, as this is considered fair use. However, the rules for dumping your own games may differ in other countries. Emulating games is, of course, legal, but you shouldn’t use a ROM that you do not own.

What are the disadvantages of an emulator?

Emulators have many advantages but also have disadvantages. They are slow, resource-intensive, and can lack a few features or functions of the original program.

Will emulators damage my computer?

It depends. If you download an emulator from an untrusted website, there is a possibility that the emulator could be infected with a virus. But generally, most emulators are safe and not infected with viruses.

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Abdul Moiz.

Abdul Moiz
Abdul Moiz

Abdul Moiz loves technology, fashion, photography, and business. His first love is technology, and he loves talking about it. How does he chill when he's not writing? You are most likely to catch him eating out, traveling, working out, or watching tech videos.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox